Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 19 April 2017

Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.   Hebrews 10, verses 11-14.

Do you feel like you’ve been made holy?

“HOLY” is a song on country radio now.   Florida Georgia Line sings it, and HOLY stands for “High On Loving You.”   You may or may not like country music; you may or may not like Florida Georgia Line (not my favorite).   But the song uses a word with which many country music fans might typically be familiar.   Holy.   Invoking a stereotype, it’s commonly accepted that country listeners have more exposure to gospel music and gospel themes than some other genres.   Thus, it seems reasonable to surmise that folks who listen to the song are familiar with the idea of holiness.  This particular ditty may be a young man’s paean to love (or something like it…that’s a Kenny Rogers song), but it made me think of the theme from verse 14.

You and I have been made holy.

My Concordia makes the point that this section of scripture contrasts sitting with the actions of Jewish priests, who stood in the tabernacle and the temple.  They never sat down while on duty.   They didn’t ‘rest’ in front of God.   Instead, they stood, walked, or performed all their duties while in the standing position.   Not so Jesus, who conducted His ministry as He did.   Then, after His ascension, “sat down at the right hand of God.”   That isn’t rhetoric or allegory:   it’s a point.

The point of it is that Jesus makes us holy.

The point of the verses is that Jesus was both divine and complete.  He completed His tasks because, in Him, life found full completion.   In and through Jesus, redemption and forgiveness are complete, and we have been made holy by Him.  No further sacrifice is necessary.   No further effort is required.   Where Jesus is, He is done.   Indeed, the Gospel of John says that some of Jesus’ last words were “it is finished.”  It is finished.   Everything that needed to be done was done.   He did everything necessary to make you holy.   Jesus, sitting at the right hand of God, lives and reigns today, resting but interceding with the Father through their Spirit on our behalf.   They do that because everything Jesus did was to make you holy.   Where Jesus is, He’s high on loving you.  Florida Georgia Line aint got nothing on that.

So I’ll admit that, sometimes, I don’t feel holy.   In fact, most of the time I don’t feel holy.   I can’t ‘feel’ it at all; I can’t seem to sense it.   I realize that this is a problem with me, not with God.   He’s already done His part and nothing more needs to happen.   It doesn’t matter whether I feel it or not:   God has still done everything that needed to be done to make me holy, to make me blameless in His sight.   Because I believe in Jesus, when God sees me, He doesn’t see my sins.   He sees me through the prism of His perfect Son.   What I don’t feel through emotion now is still reality in fact forever.   All I have to do is believe.  Yet I’ll admit:   sometimes this is a challenge.

It’s also moot.  Even when I don’t feel holy, Jesus looks at me as holy and bids me to turn from the temptations that lure me or the guilt that plagues me.   He reminds me that I’m loved perfectly, made clean perfectly, and that He sits and the right hand of His Father to tell him “consider our child and friend, Dave.   I’ve made him holy for You again.”   Florida Georgia Line can’t do that and it’s no less of a fact even when I don’t feel it.

For further reading:  Hebrews 5:1, Mark 16:19, Joshua 10:24, Hebrews 1:13, Ephesians 5:26, John 19:30.

My Lord, I praise You for making me holy.   For loving me so unconditionally, cleansing me from my sins, giving me the courage to live here again for You.

Daily Proverbial, from Ruth, 7 March 2014

At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar.”  When she sat down with the harvesters, he offered her some roasted grain. She ate all she wanted and had some left over. As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, “Let her gather among the sheaves and don’t reprimand her. Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her.”  So Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. Then she threshed the barley she had gathered, and it amounted to about an ephah.  She carried it back to town, and her mother-in-law saw how much she had gathered. Ruth also brought out and gave her what she had left over after she had eaten enough.  Ruth 2, verses 14-18.

Love preserves dignity.   Love cherishes dignity.   Love enhances, grows, celebrates, encourages, and fosters dignity.   Do we?

I really enjoy different kinds of music.  Not so much today’s music, though some of that is good as well.   So I have a challenge for you.   After you’re done reading this, go out and listen to a few songs on popular radio.   The genre doesn’t matter:   listen for what the lyrics say.  When you’re done, ask yourself this:   were the lyrics dignified?  

Now, this isn’t the old “my music is better than your music” thing that parents argue with their kids; the parents are usually right.   Undignified music is as old as the Marriage of Figaro, maybe older.  But have we sunken even lower, even in some of the tamer music in today’s pop culture?   Miley came in like a wrecking ball; what did she wreck?  You know. 

What would Boaz think?   He was interested in Ruth, impressed with her, and favorable to her.   If he wasn’t in love, he was on his way there.   What was his reaction?   It wasn’t some hip hop mess of libidinous savagery.   It wasn’t some country bumpkin lovin down by the river.   It wasn’t rock star bad boy metal crashing.  It wasn’t even a melodious classical sonnet

Boaz treated Ruth with dignity.  Maybe he even sang to her.   Most popular lyrics are poetic in nature, or at least they try to be.   The more you read the book of Ruth, the more it sounds like a story poem to me.   It’s rhythmic in nature, almost musical in the way it romantically flows.   Woven into that rhythm is the subtle dignity with which Boaz courted Ruth.   He did nothing to shame her, or to make her feel obliged, or to make her feel uncomfortable. 

Tell me, even when God is harsh with us, doesn’t God still treat us in ways that preserve our dignity?  Seems to me that everyone on the radio could learn something from Boaz.

Lord, I praise You for the dignified way in which you treat us.

 

Read Ruth 2.

 

In your own relationship, do you treat your partner with dignity?

Do you expect dignity in return?

What have you done to merit that?